Reflections from Gail on Generosity (Dana)

Hi everyone, here are some reflections from Gail Iverson, one of our teachers and CG’s bookkeeper, on the topic of dana, or generosity:

The way the Buddha presented the teachings, was through a  gradual path starting with generosity. Without the Indian  tradition of giving alms to mendicants the Buddha would not  have had the means to pursue his path to liberation. 

Over the past 2500 plus years this practice has been kept alive  through the practice of dana and therefore the teachings are  still available to us. The act of teaching is a gift free and clear. 

When asked when a gift should be given, the Buddha simply  stated, “Wherever the mind feels inspired.” In other words,  there is no obligation to give. This means that the choice to give  is an act of true freedom, and thus the perfect place to start the  path to total release. 

The practice of dana is important enough that when Wynn and  Mark founded Common Ground, they were willing to take a risk to leave the fate of the center’s well-being, dependent on our  generosity. Our willingness to support the center by offering  our time, our practice and our monetary offerings.  

A question that often comes up is “How much should I give?”  Only you can answer that for yourself. When you think about  that answer you might reflect on the value that you place on  these teachings.  

So, I just want to encourage you to look into your heart and  consider the value of what we receive here. Of all the many 

ways that you can spend your money wisely, I’d just like to say  that Common Ground is worthy of our gifts.  

This is a compassionate and mindful practice—an opportunity,  but not a requirement. The immediate cause for generosity to  arise is gratitude—if it comes from this place then the right  thing will happen.  

The sheet by the dana bowl is entitled “freely giving, freely  receiving”. This aspiration is 180 degrees from our societal  conditioning where nearly everything has a price or comes out  of duty, or obligation. We can practice looking for when the  mind is inspired to be generous and then choose how to act on  that inspiration.

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